Latin name: Python Sebae
Lifespan: In the wild adults can reach up to 30 years of age.
The African Rock Python is the largest of all snake species on the African continent. Large adults, especially females measure between 4 – 5,5 meters. Larger specimens of 7 and 8 meters have been recorded.
African Rock Pythons are often found near water in savannah and grassland biomes as well as rocky outcrops. Their preferred retreats are under piles of driftwood and inside old termite mounds and abandoned aardvark (ant-bear) burrows.
Mammals such as small to medium sized antelope, dassies (hyrax), rodents, hares, monkeys, monitor lizards, crocodiles and occasionally fish are eaten.
During the summer months the female lays between 20 and 60 eggs in a termite mound or aardvark burrow. Large pythons can lay as many as 100 eggs.
The female remains with her eggs for the 2 – 3 month incubation period. During this period she will not feed but will leave on occasion to drink.
On warm days she will often bask in the sun and then use the absorbed body heat to help incubate the eggs by coiling around them. By constantly twitching her body she also generates heat to help raise the temperature of the eggs. Another advantage of coiling around the eggs is their protection against predators such as mongoose, rats and monitor lizards.
After the eggs hatch, the female remains with the hatchlings for a further 2 weeks and once the have shed their first skin they then leave the security of the female to go off on their own.
The African Rock Python lacks venom glands but is still capable of inflicting a serious bite. Its sharp, recurved teeth often cause severe tissue damage and infection if not disinfected properly.
There are recorded incidents of large African Rock Pythons killing and even eating humans but this is very rare.
Prey that is captured is suffocated to death before consuming. Small prey species are sometimes swallowed alive! Pythons do not crush their prey to death.
The African Rock Python is a highly protected species that plays a very important role in the control of rodent populations.